GENESEO – Rehearsals are in their final days at the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo for the next production of “Bombs & Blooms”. Ruth Henry’s musical drama tells the story of a B-17 pilot during World War II.
“It’s based on my husband’s uncle’s bombing mission diaries and has a lot of material on things like rationing and black migration from the south, victory gardens and some of the social dynamics. women who go to work, ”said Henry, who also directs.
Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Henry was unable to have a live performance, so she instead edited a short film that included clips of scenes from the performance.
Production of the video was funded by a $ 5,000 decentralization grant provided by the State Arts Council through the Genesee Valley Arts Council, which administers the Grants program in Livingston County. .
“It’s a little different because we added a scene, we asked the audience for feedback, and we had a survey card for all audience members to fill out and some of the things that were suggested that we have incorporated into this new show, ”said Henry.
Additional dialogue has also been added. Henry said the characters were a bit more developed. It’s the same bones as the staged reading, but it only says better.
“We have two school groups coming in, grade eight from Mount Morris comes in, and then Perry comes in for each morning. It will be different to have students in the audience and they will probably think that some things are funny that some of the older people who may also be in the audience are not that funny and vice versa, ”said Henry.
The performance, she said, is not dry at all and contains a mix of comedic and emotional scenes as it tells the story of a B-17 pilot who goes to fight in WWII.
In the production, actor Peter Elliott plays a flower shop owner.
“It’s amazing to be able to recreate a true story with these planes as a backdrop,” said Elliott in the shadow of the Warplane Museum’s film Memphis Belle, a B-17 built into the staging of the play.
“Bombs & Blooms” is about a B-17 pilot who had worked in the flower shop, but who is now fighting overseas in the war in Europe. “We hope he comes back, and when he comes back, we hope he takes over the flower shop from us,” Elliott said.
The performance not only tells a story, but also shows the more human side of war.
“You see the husband abroad and struggle to be away from his family. You see his wife struggling around the house, ”actress Shannon DeRose said.
“In a lot of movies you only see the war part or the romance part,” she said, “but it has both, which I think is cool.”
The story can be moving not only for the audience but also for some actors.
“You see people who have had the experience of being in war and fighting, it can get very emotional,” Elliott said.
Because it’s a true story, actors like Diane Chevron who plays Gloria have said it’s important for her to get it right.
“I play the flower shop owner with my husband Walter and we don’t have kids, so the hero of the show we treat him like a son. You have to know who she is and you want to get it right, ”Chevron said.
The military planes that serve as the backdrop in the hangar of the National Warplane Museum also help to add to the performance. Another nice part for some actors was being able to wear clothes from that time in history.
“I love disguises. They are not comfortable but so much fun. It’s like the last piece of the character’s puzzle that falls into place. You get the costume, the wig and you really lose the last bit of your street personality and you are that person, ”DeRose said.
In addition to wearing the clothes, some hope the show will help deliver an educational message to those who watch it.
Bradley Adams, who is African American, plays Virgil, a part-time worker at the flower shop.
“At that time in America for a colored man like him, everywhere was out of your element because there was a lot of hostility,” Adams said. “I think we’ve improved with people in terms of race relations, but there are still a lot of issues that could be resolved.”
Performances are scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Sept, Oct 1, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1 and 4 p.m. Oct. 2.
For more information, contact Director Ruth Henry at (518) 495-4503 or by email at [email protected]